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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

THE BULL-HEADED PREMIER                  101

Huei fired the first shot at Wang Anshih, describing him as "a hypocrite
and a sinister character destined to bring the country to the brink of
catastrophe", even Szema Kuang was surprised. As they walked
together to a class in classics to be given to the Emperor, Lu revealed
to Szema Kuang what he was going to do that morning, and showed
him the memorial concealed in his sleeve.

"But what can we do? He is so popular," said Szema Kuang.

"You, tool" replied Lu Huei, shocked.

Lu Huei was dismissed from his post, and the purge began.

Now a spark set the court politics on fire. There was the case of a
woman who had attempted murder of her husband but had only suc-
ceeded in wounding him. The woman had confessed her intent of
murder, and the highest officials disagreed on the proper punishment.
The case had therefore been standing for over a year. Szema Kuang
wanted to settle it one way, and Wang Anshih wanted to settle it the
other and insisted on carrying it through. The punishment was
embodied in an imperial decree, but the censor, Liu Shu, rejected it
for reconsideration, as the imperial censors often did. A second censor
defied Wang's will, and Wang impeached him through one of his
underlings. This then brought the fight into the open.

The imperial censors were aroused. The question was whether they
were to be free to prosecute their duties, or whether one by one they
were to be politically disposed of. Several of the censors sent a joint
toipeachment of Wang Anshih and asked for his recall Wang Anshih
was angered and wanted to put them in jail. Szema Kuang and Fan
Chunjen opposed this on principle, and eventually six censors were sent
out to distant'provinces to sell wine at the government stores. Upon
this, Fan Chunjen took up the fight. He demanded that the order dis-
missing the censors be rescinded—and was dismissed himself. The
next to fall was Tseyu, Su Tungpo's brother, who had consistently
opposed the farmers' loans and the national trade bureau. Two months
later the good old premier Fu Pi resigned, warning that in any political
fight the good men were bound to lose, while the bad politicians were
bound to come out on top. For good men fought for principles and
bad men fought for power, and in the end both would get what they
Wanted, by the good men's quitting and the bad men's staying. He
predicted that with this trend of affairs, the country would soon be
plunged into chaos.

The court was now thrown into an uproar. The bureau of economic
planning was instituted in February 1069, the national trade bureau
in July, and the farmers' loans in September. In the course of a few
months public opinion towards the new administration changed from
great expectations to doubt, doubt gave place to confusion, and con-
fusion to anger and fear.